Anil Thakraney: Death of the film critic

14 Nov,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Apart from all the gassing and the plugging that goes on in the social media, there’s one common tendency I have noticed, regardless of what the tweeter/Facebooker does for a living: To immediately post his/her two bits on a movie that’s just been released. (Even as I write this, my timeline is awash with tweets on Jab Tak Hai Jaan.) Speed is of essence; you have to post on the weekend of the release, Monday is too late. In fact, I often wonder if some people rush to the multiplexes ONLY to be the first out there with a micro film review, such are the times we live in.


And here’s the thing: many social networkers (including film directors and movie stars) take these little reviews quite seriously. And this isn’t entirely surprising, these posts can and do affect the fortunes of a film to a significant extent (well, at least in the urban areas). In the olden days, we would pass the word around though direct interactions or phone conversations. I still recall all the excited exchange when Sholay was released, even though I was a bachcha. We would gather around during the school recess to discuss the movie. All this word-of-mouth took time to take effect and that’s why Sholay, which started out rather poorly, took its time to pick up. Social media updates now play the same word-of-mouth role, except that they are lightning fast. Which is why I guess these posts aren’t taken lightly, even if the ‘reviews’ are by cinema amateurs.


And this means no one really reads the newspaper film reviews anymore, or at least many people take very less interest in them. Folks have already discovered what the movie is all about, and there’s nothing more to find out. Which is why I believe the time is up for professional cinema critics. They will sooner or later have to pack up and leave. The only thing that can possibly save this dying species is if they quickly re-invent their craft and find innovative ways to keep the readers engaged. I don’t know what these new tricks can be, but they have to be found. The traditional format of reviewing a film is pretty much finished.


Yet another reason why I so adore the new media. It’s constantly challenging the old world. Innovate. Or perish.




PS: Interesting interview with Golden Globes presenter Ricky Gervais. And all the questions pertain to the man’s views on today’s journalists and the entertainment media. All journos must read this. Chances are very high that Indian celebs think pretty much the same of desi reporters.





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